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Day-one DLC makes sense, Bethesda VP says

Making downloadable content available on the very same day a game releases--AKA day-one DLC--is one of this console generation's biggest faux pas. Gamers liken it to selling a car then, as the buyer pulls out of the lot, charging extra for the Highway Readiness Pack of a windshield and headlights.

Bethesda VP Pete Hines told OXM UK that attitude often comes from a misunderstanding of game development. Artists and other content creators stop making new stuff a good amount of time before the game ships in most workflows, to allow for plenty of testing and polish. Those people might as well be doing something, Hines argues.

"There's a pretty long gap where your artists and designers are fixing a bug if they get one, or they may be playing the game to find bugs, but they're not making a new anything for a long time, and you have creative people who are used to creating--so why would you make them wait some period of time, months in some cases, to start making new stuff so you can say it was after DLC?"

It may sound odd coming from Bethesda, which releases most of its downloadable content months after its corresponding game--as was the case with Skyrim and its first expansion content, Dawnguard.

"It takes a long time to make a Dawnguard or a Dragonborn--it's not the kind of stuff you can just turn around in two weeks or three weeks," Hines said. "it's not that we're trying to put it out much later, we're willing to do it later, we're willing to continue to support it because we continue to believe there's a demand and an interest in that kind of stuff. We're not stalling for stalling's sake."

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8 comments

  • PoisonWar - April 11, 2013 7:10 a.m.

    Yeah it makes sense while the rayman developers made 30 additional levels which they're giving away for free. Good job Bethesda. Its just developers squeezing as much money as possible.
  • ParagonT - April 11, 2013 5:51 a.m.

    Sounds good in theory.... if your an honest company, but eventually there will be a time when many companies will take advantage of that lull in judgement from consumers. Companies are here to make money, so its a boulder that will be pushed and pushed to see how far it goes.
  • Scuju - April 11, 2013 5:46 a.m.

    What Mr Hines has done here is cleverly dodged the question: yes there is a latency before sale day which could be put to good use. Good use to the following dlc however, not ironing out bugs for the basic game. This is not extra content, this is the fundamental ability to play the game, and as such should have been done during the development process, and before shipping. The danger with this practice, as we saw with Skyrim, is that without a deadline which can be pushed back (rather than the game physically being sold in retail), sometimes developers and qa testers can’t iron out all the bugs. You can’t unrelease a game if it’s already been bought by John Smith. This results in unfinished code being distributed. Day one dlc does not help the consumer, only in this case Bethesda, by tightening their margins and saving time/money on their content turnaround. While on paper this doesn’t have to be an issue, it makes the stakes so much higher. So yes, please Mr Hines, do get your developers to start creating ADDITIONAL contact as soon as possible, but just make sure the basics are down first. Naughtly Mr Hines, question dodging…
  • CUFCfan616 - April 10, 2013 6:35 p.m.

    just release a game that works properly from day one and everyone would be happy
  • FoxdenRacing - April 10, 2013 12:24 p.m.

    And Mr. Hines, your company is one that's got a better reputation than most because of that. We understand that testing, printing, shipping, and the like take time. We appreciate getting a head start on huge expansion packs, rather than having to wait a few extra months. We don't get upset about that. We get upset when that opportunity is abused by people with dollar signs for pupils. We don't mind shelling out for quality expansions to a quality game. We do mind being taken advantage of, or taken for granted. We as gamers don't hate all Day-1 DLC purely on principle. We hate the companies that use it in a nefarious manner. We hate the companies that pull features from the game to sell separately later, and are doubly insulted when those pulled features are on sale on launch day. We hate the companies that treat DLC as a way to nickel-and-dime us to death. We hate DLC that is 'pay for power'. We hate DLC that takes away our choice as customers, forcing our hands on which stores to business with. Basically...don't be a prick about it, and we won't get upset. Every drop of blood shed from biting the hand that feeds is a lost sale, or a lost customer. Eventually the hand that feeds will grow weak from blood loss, and your company goes belly-up. One thing that may help, at least until the sleazes jump on it too, would be waiting a few days, even just a week, before putting the 'lag time' DLC up for sale. Give us a chance to enjoy the game before sticking your hand out for extra money.
  • semitope - April 10, 2013 12:18 p.m.

    sounds like they can just release it for free then, huh? Since those people aren't getting paid more and are just there to do whatever. If you have the artists you might as well have them making free content to increase the value of the product. I'm guessing that's what was happening in the past before all this DLC crap
  • leonardo-j-ceballos - April 10, 2013 2:21 p.m.

    Or they could just lay all those people off, which isn't uncommon. The highs and lows of game design encourage contract work and frequent hiring/firing/hiring again. Its one of the most terrifying things of working in the industry. When a big AAA game hits full production, they need tons and tons of artists; but unless you're a big enough developer that you can rotate folk to a B-Team in an earlier phase of another game its time for some good ol' pink slips. Not your core guys, of course, but the younger ones you're confident you can replace. If this guy is telling me that with day one DLC he can offset the cost of keeping those guys around, I'm definitely ok with that. I might even buy it, IF I consider it worthwhile. If they did more work and created more good content, I might decide to pay them for it. I don't see the issue.
  • zakalwe - April 10, 2013 12:17 p.m.

    It does make sense. There's no way of telling how true the developers are regarding a specific release, but then the reaction from gamers every time it happens is often ridiculous.

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